Negotiation Committee cannot resolve Mahanadi row: Bijay Mohapatra

Bhubaneswar: Senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra today claimed that the Negotiation Committee formed by the Water Resources Ministry cannot resolve the ongoing Mahanadi row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

“There was no need for the Water Resources ministry to form the Negotiation Committee. A far as I know, the decision to be taken by the Committee will in no way resolve the Mahanadi issue. I don’t know why the Committee was formed as no state will abide by its decision,” Mohapatra told media persons here.

He also informed that after the failure of the meeting of the chief ministers and chief secretaries of Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the Centre had two more options. “Either the Prime Minister should have called up both the states for a discussion or he should have taken step for the formation of an inter-state water dispute tribunal.

“After the failure of talks between the chief ministers of these two states, the Odisha government in a letter to the Water Resources ministry on November 21 last year had proposed formation of the tribunal. Since the meeting between these two states has failed, formation of a tribunal is the only way out for the Centre,” Mohapatra noted.

He further said he is the only leader from Odisha who is trying for a lasting solution to this prolonged dispute. On the other hand, the Centre, instead of finding a better way to resolve the issue, is trying to make it more complex.

“The dispute would have a lasting solution had the Centre formed an inter-state tribunal. Whether or not Odisha would become a party in the tribunal is a different matter. But the fact is that all states would have abided by the decision of the tribunal if it was formed. Instead of forming the tribunal, the Ministry has formed the Negotiation Committee which will act against the interest of Odisha. We are discharging our duty as the Opposition party to safeguard the larger interest of the state,” he pointed out.

Asked about the visit of the BJP National President Amit Shah, Mohapatra said “Neither I had any information about his visit and nor any leader of his party has informed me about his visit ”.

In his reaction, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said the Water Resources ministry has formed the Negotiation Committee and included three other states, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand along with Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Raising the issue on the decision of the ministry to include Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand in the Negotiation Committee even though they are not the petitioners, he said by including three BJP-ruled states in the committee, attempts are being made to provide security and protection to the Chhattisgarh chief minister.

“Going by the modus operandi of the ministry we are now in a doubt on whether the Centre is going to put pressure on the Odisha government,” Deb pointed out.